DUT and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) have entered into an agreement that will see amounts of up to R500,000 per project being made available for innovation-oriented projects conducted at DUT. The intention of the DUT TIA Seed Fund is develop preliminary research outputs where initial proof of concept has been demonstrated, in order that they may be commercialized or better positioned to receive next-round innovation funding.
TIA’s primary objective with this funding is to increase the quality and quantity of investment proposals to TIA Funds from HEI and to increase the rate of commercialization of viable intellectual property from South African technologies emanating from HEIs.
The funding is provided to support Projects run within DUT (a level of outsourcing to third party suppliers is permitted), or to Spin-off Companies that are based on IP emanating from DUT (i.e. the DUT is licensed or assigned to them). Proposals are reviewed by a Steering Committee with representatives from TIA, TTI, industry and each of the faculties. The Steering Committee will review new proposals for funding on a quarterly basis and monitor progress on existing projects.
Key Investment Parameters
The key investment parameters are:
- Grant funding.
- Protected or protectable intellectual property is required.
- Projects should represent significant potential for further investment by TIA or other investors and/or a competitive intellectual property position and where registration is in national benefit.
- Up to R500k per project (special permission can be sought up to a ceiling of R1million, but this will delay the award).
- TIA has the first right of refusal to fund further development of the outputs arising from the Seed Fund investment.
The application process is as follows:
- Application – each applicant will complete an application form (download here). The form includes a project plan detailing timelines for activities and project costs. Note the fundable activities listed below. At least one project deliverable is a viable proposal or business plan for taking the idea forward at the end of the Seed project – i.e. that can be considered by TIA and/or other investors.
- Review – TTI will review the application and discuss any budget/project clarification issues.
- Approval – TTI will prepare a submission to the Steering Committee for approval. The submission will include an assessment of the applicant, summary of the technology, team and proposed funding amount. On approval the applicants will be required to sign a “project performance undertaking” agreeing to timelines, etc. and confirming the budget made available in the award.
- Funding – TTI will submit a drawdown schedule to TIA requesting funding for all projects. A new fund will be opened by the Principal Investigator to facilitate audits.
The following activities can be supported:
- Initial proof of concept (note that this assumes some level of proof of concept has been achieved using research funding).
- Product, Process (comprehensive technology package) and Prototype development.
- Sourcing of IP opinions.
- Production of market samples and/or associated testing, analytical data and method development and specification sheet development.
- Refining and implementing designs.
- Conducting field studies.
- Support of certification activities.
- Piloting and scale-up and techno-economic evaluation.
- Detailed primary market research, or specialist consulting.
- Business Plan Development.
The following will not be funded:
- No staff salaries or student bursaries may be supported by the fund. A student may, however, be employed to conduct project tasks.
- Faculty overheads.
- Funding should not replace research funding.
- Computer equipment will require specific motivation and it is not the intention of the fund to support the purchase of personal computing equipment.
- Conference expenses will generally not be supported and should not be included within a budget, unless special motivation has been provided.
- Late application received after the internal deadline will have to be re-submitted to the next funding call.
- Projects funded under other TIA funding programs will only be considered for seed funding if satisfactory proof of progress can be provided.
- The committee will not consider applications from the same researcher when a previously funded projects have not been completed successfully.
- Funding applications should include detailed scientific references on the project technologies to enable committee members to perform background and novelty searches.
- Seed fund application budgets must be kept to a minimum and should provide enough detail for the committee to evaluate if the needs of the project can be met.
- Seed funding may not be used to pay university staff members or post graduate students, except in special cases pre-approved by the committee.